Thanks to a new DNA analysis, a man is exonerated of rape and freed from prison after 17 years

Kerry Robinson, 44, was freed Wednesday, January 8, 2020, from the Coffee Correctional Facility in southern Georgia after serving 17 years for a rape he didn't commit. A judge vacated Robinson's 2002 sentence for a 1993 rape after lawyers and a DNA scientist presented evidence that his DNA was not present in evidence collected by investigators.
Kerry Robinson, 44, was freed Wednesday, January 8, 2020, from the Coffee Correctional Facility in southern Georgia after serving 17 years for a rape he didn't commit. A judge vacated Robinson's 2002 sentence for a 1993 rape after lawyers and a DNA scientist presented evidence that his DNA was not present in evidence collected by investigators. (Georgia Innocence Project)

(CNN) -- A Georgia man who served 17 years of a 20-year sentence has been exonerated from his rape conviction and released from prison, after a judge agreed that new analysis of DNA evidence clears him.

Kerry Robinson, 44, walked out of prison in southern Georgia on Wednesday and into the arms of his sister, his son and other supporters, hours after a Colquitt County judge vacated his 2002 conviction and sentence.

"Modern DNA technology has further confirmed what we've known for a long time: Kerry Robinson is an innocent man," one of his lawyers, Rodney Zell, said in a news release from the Georgia Innocence Project, which helped push for Robinson's exoneration.

"I am so grateful that new technology is finally able to meet the incredibly high thresholds for righting wrongful convictions in Georgia," Zell said.

The key, supporters say, was new analysis of the very DNA evidence that was used to convict him. In other words: New technology shows that the interpretation presented at trial was wrong, and that in fact Robinson's DNA is not there, the project says.

The 1993 rape

Robinson's conviction stemmed from a case in 1993, when three young men raped a woman at gunpoint at her home in Moultrie, about 40 miles north of the Florida state line.

From pictures in a junior high school yearbook, the woman identified one attacker who would later be convicted.